Minds, Brains and Science takes up just the problems that perplex people, and it does what good philosophy always does: it dispels the illusion caused by the specious collision of truths. How do we reconcile common sense and science? John Searle argues vigorously that the truths of common sense and the truths of science are both right and that the only question is how to fit them together.
Searle explains how we can reconcile an intuitive view of ourselves as conscious, free, rational agents with a universe that science tells us consists of mindless physical particles. He briskly and lucidly sets out his arguments against the familiar positions in the philosophy of mind, and details the consequences of his ideas for the mind-body problem, artificial intelligence, cognitive science, questions of action and free will, and the philosophy of the social sciences.
Wittgenstein once remarked that a philosopher who doesn’t engage in public debate is like a boxer who never enters the ring. By this standard, John Searle is a true prizefighter. In recent years he has taken on Noam Chomsky, the champion of modern linguistics; Jacques Derrida, the heavyweight of post structuralism; and endeavored to deal a knock-out blow to the pretensions of artificial intelligentsia.
John Searle’s Reith lectures have been widely received as a timely exposé of those woolly-minded computer-lovers who believe that computers can think, and indeed that the human mind is just a biological computer. In print Professor Searle’s lectures retain the same punchy and engaging style as they had on the air.
John Searle’s six Reith lectures—brief talks given over the BBC—are popular philosophy in the best sense: clear and lively without loss of rigor, and on problems of wide appeal. Searle proposes answers to three related questions: the relation between mind and brain; whether computers can think (they cannot); and why, compared with the natural sciences, the social sciences have taught us so little. On the second two issues he is brilliant… Searle makes a resounding contribution to current debates.
Searle’s six brief chapters are models of straightforward, vigorous, non-technical argument… All of this heady and provocative stuff makes Searle’s book an exciting read.
This book is aggressive, zealous, and acute. Searle’s manner is that of a plain man in possession of plain truths that no one can reject if they are plainly enough stated. I cannot think of another book quite like it.
Searle’s book is an admirably clear and vigorous exposition of his views on a connected set of philosophical issues of importance and timeliness.
- 112 pages
- 5-3/4 x 8-1/4 inches
- Harvard University Press
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